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Old flames reunite in Sarah Ruhl’s ‘Stage Kiss’ at Theatre of Western Springs

He and She, who were once lovers, are cast in a 1930s melodrama where they have to play lovers. This sounds like trouble, especially in the hands of acclaimed playwright Sarah Ruhl.

You can find out how it all turns out at the Theatre of Western Springs, Sept. 28-Oct. 8. Angelee Johns of Willowbrook directs.

Linda Cunningham of La Grange plays She. “She’s got some quirkiness to her,” Cunningham said. “Her husband says, ‘You have an exquisitely overactive imagination.'”

Cunningham is enjoying the fact that, in addition to playing She, the role requires her to be another character in a play within a play, as well as a third character. “It’s a whole lot of fun,” she said.

That being said, Cunningham admitted that her three roles offer challenges. “There’s a lot going on,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of costume changes that are quick. We’ve got kissing a lot of different characters. There’s choreography to that.”

He is played by Tim Gannon of LaGrange Park. “He is childlike, he is immature, he likes to have fun,” Gannon said. “He doesn’t like responsibility. In a lot of ways, he is kind of a caricature of a man. He is clearly someone who is not thinking about tomorrow but living for today.”

He and She have been out of touch for 20 years. “They were lovers and traveled the world together,” Gannon related. She left him while they were on tour so there are “unresolved issues,” the actor said. “She has a successful husband and a daughter and yet the two of them have dreams about each other.”

Gannon said his challenge is playing a character that he didn’t initially like. “I’ve grown to like him a lot more,” he admitted.

The wacky Director of the play that unites He and She is played by Chicagoan Joe Savino. “He’s really not a very good director but he thinks he is,” Savino said. “He’s real vague about what he wants out of his actors.”

Savino enjoys playing the Director because “He’s really funny. He’s kind of out there, kind of eccentric. He’s colorful.”

The actor said he relates to some of his character’s characteristics. “I’m very outgoing and I’m kind of eccentric.”

Cunningham, who also performed in Sarah Ruhl’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at the Theatre of Western Springs, praised the playwright saying she is “very whimsical. She’s very clever. It’s fun to do her work. I’m very fortunate to be able to tackle another one of her scripts.”

Savino described the show as “really well written and funny. And it’s something that us as actors always have to deal with — kissing somebody onstage and having to get to know that person very fast.”

Gannon hopes the play will inspire audiences to think about “the different things that happen in life that make relationships work and the different things that make relationships not work.”

Theatre of Western Springs presents, ‘Stage Kiss’

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 28-Oct. 8, plus 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 7

Where: 4384 Hampton Ave., Western Springs

Tickets: $20-$22

Information: 708-246-3380;

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